The Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest has proposed trail closure for the popular Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls trail from September 5, 2017 through April 2018. Weyerhauser is scheduled to begin logging on their property adjacent to the trail this September. In order to access the area for logging, which will not take place on National Forest Land, Weyerhauser has requested access to the lower part of the Serene Trail, which retains a past dual designation as a road.
16 conservation recreation and conservation groups signed onto a comment letter coordinated by Washington Wild to express their concern for the impacts to this incredibly popular trail, which is used by 45,000 Washingtonians each year. While the groups recognize private landowners authority over their property and the Forest to allow for reasonable access to private holdings, there were a number of changes that could reduce the impact of this project for hikers during the closure.
Suggested improvements to the current proposal include:
- Maintaining access to the trail during weekends and holidays, when logging work is not a high priority
- Shortening the length of closure to October – March to avoid closure during peak hiking season
- Working with Weyerhauser to ensure minimal visual and physical impacts to the trail to the extent possible
- Requiring the trail be restored after the project and converted from road to trail, leaving the popular hiking opportunity better than when Weyerhauser began the project
The letter urges the Forest Service to protect the significant and valuable investments that have been made in the recreational infrastructure that attract families, local residents and visitors to this popular trail. The Forest Service should balance the requests from Weyerhauser and the conservation and recreation community carefully to ensure the future recreation value of the this trail and the wonderful experience it offers to Washington residents.
Many of the organizations who signed the letter have supported the acquisition of this private inholding for more than a decade. The adjacent parcel has been part of requests for Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) funding with the intent of avoiding this type of conflict between the public and recreationists and the impacts of adjacent private landowner management. The letter urges the Forest to re-emphasize support for this LWCF request during the current appropriations cycle to avoid future conflicts of this nature.
Read the letter here.